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The Painful Story Behind Modern Anesthesia

On Oct. 16, 1846, the first surgical procedure was performed using an anesthetic. It was sulfuric ether, a technique developed by dentist William T. G. Morton, and it allowed surgeon John Warren to remove a tumor from the neck of Glenn Abbott while he was out cold. Morton was already a popular dentist because of his painkilling methods, but after the surgery, he was world renowned in the medical field. But that did not last.

Morton's reputation was sullied by an action that many take as a matter of course today: He attempted to patent his anesthesia, which he named Letheon, and an inhaler device he invented to deliver it. That was considered inhumane and undignified in the medical community of the 19th century. My, how times have changed! Read about Morton, and how the development of anesthesia affected the rest of his life, at PBS NewsHour. -via Digg

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